Sunday, November 06, 2022

Daisy Woodworm Changes the World

Hart, Melissa. Daisy Woodworm Changes the World
November 8th 2022 by Jolly Fish Press (first published 2022)
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus
Daisy Woodward attends a small charter school where she and Poppy have known each other since first grade. Most of the students get along, but Miguel and Devon have belittled Daisy because of her slight lisp and her interest in insects. Daisy's brother, Squirrel, is a senior with Down's syndrome who is very into fashion and wants to be a YouTube star giving fashion advice. Her mother, who fought cancer when Daisy was younger, lost her job as an account for a big outdoor store chain, so she and Daisy's father, who was an at-home dad and freelance photographer, have started a dog waste removal business called Poop Fairies. Their business van is somewhat of an embarassment. When Daisy's teacher, Mr. Lipinsky, assigns a "change the world" project, she isn't quite sure what to do. When Squirrel is dumped by his girlfriend at a dance just as the annual Special Olympics is canceled, she hopes to raise his spirits by making his dream of becoming a YouTube star come true. The only problem? After an unfortunate trolling incident, her parents have forbidden Squirrel from using any social media. Miguel's cousin is also involved in the Special Olympics, and he is trying to raise money so that they can be held. He knows a bit more about social media, and the two get involved in several projects, including one where Squirrel stars in a commercial. Daisy forges her parents' signature for that. Daisy also is running cross country, and Mr. Lipinsky takes over as coach! There's a lot going on, and her parents' financial woes add to her stress. They are very busy with work, so Daisy is able to get away with a lot. When they find out about all that she and Squirrel have been up to, will they be understanding? And how has Miguel become a decent person?
Strengths: I appreciated the author's note at the end of the book about her brother, who also lives with Down's Syndrome. Her experiences give a lot of authenticity to Daisy's deep friendship with her brother, and her struggles to get him as many opportunities as she can. Her interest in insects, while not explored very much, add another layer to Daisy's personality, and I am always interested to see cross country involved in a middle grade novel. Squirrel and his friends are active in many activities, and while Daisy sometimes chafes against having to help with these, she is always trying to help out her brother and her parents without too much complaining, which is great. Her friend Poppy is of Indian descent and her project involves classical Indian dancing, which was an interesting inclusion. Daisy's relationship with Miguel follows a realistic arc, and even Devon eventually redeems himself a bit. Mr. Lipinsky was delightful as a teacher as well as a coach. Daisy's busy life makes for a compelling and upbeat read. 
Weaknesses: The dates of the cross country season seemed a bit off; ours in Ohio is over in early October, but I know from Erin Fry (Losing It) who coached in California, that the season is a little different because of the temperatures as well as occasional fires! I'm just glad to see the sport included. 
What I really think: Books about characters with intellectual disabilities need to be carefully done, and Hart does an excellent job of sympathetically portraying Daisy and Squirrels life. There is a lot going on in the book, and it starts out with a lot of quirky things, but it is generally upbeat and shows middle school students acting in a positive manner. A great addition to a middle school collection.
 Ms. Yingling

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